According to a new study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Sheffield, it seems that a worm reduces infertility Not any kind of worm, though, but some species that are endemic to Bolivia.
The team of scientists have reached this conclusion after they perform a couple of test on a group of women from the Tsimane tribe, situated in the lowland of Bolivia. The test group comprised 986 women, each of them carrying a lifetime infection with a parasitic worm called Ascaris lumbricoides.
The Ascaris lumbricoides is considered to be a giant roundworm, capable of reaching lengths up to 35 centimeters. It has also been noted that this specie of roundworm is capable to cause Loffler’s syndrome. Usually, infection occurs when human or animals drink water or swallow food which contains eggs. Once ingested, the unhatched eggs lodge themselves inside the duodenum. Once the worms are born, they travel to the heart, where they begin to tamper with the pulmonary circulation.
As shocking as the effects might seem, it was proven that a worm reduces infertility in humans. Over 70 percent of the Tsimane’s women population carry this kind on illness. Surprisingly, the average family size among the Tsimanes is nine children. By taking a closer look of how the parasite affects the immune system, the team of scientists discovered that the little critter actually boosts the fertility rate.
However, these weren’t the only parasitic worms the researchers studied. The hookworm, basically coming from the same parasitic family as the roundworm, doesn’t affect fertility in the same manner as his distant cousin. On the contrary! It would seem that women who came down with a hookworm infection gave birth to less children than the ones who were infected with the roundworm.
Scientist who have investigated this case from the beginning said the results are very promising. They hope that one day they could use their findings in order to develop stronger and more reliable fertility drugs.
One of the researchers, by the name of Allan Pacey, a professor at the University of Sheffield, explained how the actual process works, and how a parasite can induce greater fertility rates. When infected with the hookworm, the immune system creates two types of cell: 1T cells and 2T cells. The 1T cell are the warriors, being involved in open conflict with the pathogen itself, while the 2T cells order our body to produce more antibodies. Hookworm infection triggers a mass production of 1T cells.
On the opposing side, we have the roundworm infection, which basically alters the balance of power. It would seem that those infected with roundworm parasites had a greater number of 2T cells in their bloodstream, as opposed to those infected with hookworms. Researchers don’t fully understand how the process itself works, but they seem to believe it has something to do with the prevalence of 2T cells that actually instructs the body into not attacking the fetus.